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My students and I just completed our class mission statement, and I decided to try a different format this year. Rather than present our ideas as a series of paragraphs, I designed the document to look like the front wall of a classroom. The text was fit inside a whiteboard, two bulletin boards, a clock, a flag, and other "classroom-themed" shapes. As much as possible, the meaning of the text matched the object in which it was placed. For example, the words "we use our time well and make the most of every day" were put in the clock. My hope is that this novel format will resonate with my students and give our ideas greater meaning.
Click here to see the full-sized version of our new class mission statement.
In this video I announce the release of my new e-book on amazon, 15 1/2 Ways to Personalize Learning. In the book I present a variety of proven, user-friendly teaching strategies, ideas, and activities that simplify the challenge of personalizing student learning and enable educators to meet children’s diverse needs confidently, effectively, and joyfully.
This teaching resource is divided into four sections.
Part 1: Personalize the approach students take to their work
Part 2: Personalize academic instruction (This part includes my favorite method of integrating technology in the classroom.)
Part 3: Personalize student goals
Part 4: Personalize each child’s classroom experience
There is also a link in the book that provides access to a free PDF with over 25 printable pages that make it easy to incorporate the book’s ideas in the classroom.
Click here to see the book on amazon.com.
Click here to see the video.
One of my favorite beginning-of-the-year activities to use in the classroom is the Passion Survey. Having children identify their favorite hobbies and topics and then using this information throughout the school year produces numerous academic and socio-emotional benefits. This video describes these benefits and presents a user-friendly way to organize and display the results.
Watch this video now.
This video features a fun strategy designed teachers can use in the classroom to personalize everyone’s classroom experience and guarantee positive attention. When we give kids their own thing, it can be a nickname, a job, a gesture, a signal, or a private joke—anything that makes a child feel special and acknowledged as an individual. The goal is for every child to have or be known for something that is uniquely theirs.
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This video features a wonderful resource we can use in the classroom to improve children's reading after we conclude our reading conferences with them. Conferring is a terrific way to personalize our strategy work for the benefit of each child. Follow-up is typically the primary challenge of conferring. For example, a student, during a reading conference, may do a fantastic job of making a thoughtful prediction before starting a new chapter, yet transferring that skill to her daily reading, where it matters most, may not come as easily.
To help facilitate stronger transfer, we can use simple tools called visual reminder cards. Each card is a small, index-card-size sheet that contains the name of a specific strategy, a corresponding image, and a brief definition or description of the strategy. At the end of a conference, I like to present students with a visual reminder card focused on the strategy we just practiced. The kids then take the card back to their seats and keep it on their desks as a quick, easy reference. Seeing the card in front of them as they read significantly increases the likelihood that students will use the strategy we discussed. In addition, when the kids are all displaying their cards in this manner, it allows me to circulate through the room and know instantly which strategies to reinforce.
Watch the video now.